Let’s face it. Most professional services firms place little value on research. They firmly believe, “I know my clients well.” So what’s the point?
What you don’t know could be costing you some real money. Let me share an example.
Just the other day we presented the results of client and prospect research to one of our clients. The firm’s leadership thought that they knew their market well. One of their strongest beliefs was that their clients were very price sensitive. The problem is, it wasn’t true.
In fact, their clients were much more concerned about how well the firm understood their industry. Price was a minor issue. It turned out that the firm’s entire business development efforts were aimed at addressing a concern that prospective clients did not have.
The Real Importance of Research in Business Growth
The bottom line is that professional services firms that do systematic, structured research on their target audiences grow faster and are more profitable. In short, research will help you grow your firm.
Not sure you agree? Our annual High Growth research study on over 1000 professional services firms is pretty persuasive:
High growth professional services firms are those that grow at least a 20% compound annual growth rate. Low Growth firms are those that do not grow at all. High growth firms are also twice as likely to be highly profitable. So how do these two types of firms approach research?
High growth firms are about two and one-half times more likely to do research on their target audience. In addition, when they do research they are also more likely to do it more frequently. Clearly, research is important to business growth and profitability.
Yet many professional services firms are missing out on the benefits of research. For this reason, Hinge has released a comprehensive guide on the topic called the Professional Services Guide to Research.
We wrote it not only to help you understand why you might want to do research, but also how you might go about doing it. It also talks about the kinds of insights that you can gain through research and how to apply them in your firm.
Another Role for Research in Business Growth
This is where it gets even more exciting. While the actionable insights that you gain from a piece of well designed research are game changing, there is another use for research in the world of thought leadership marketing.
Professional services clients choose their providers to help them address important business issues. They are looking for someone they can trust (the trusted advisor) and who has the relevant expertise and experience to meet the challenges. This is why thought leadership marketing is so prevalent in today’s digital environment.
As it turns out, research is also the most trusted form of thought leadership content and is most relevant in conveying your expertise in a specific topic area. By publishing a piece of research you establish both relevance and convey your expertise. That is pretty powerful.
Because of this valuable use we have developed a second guide called Research as Content: A Guide for B2B Marketers. The whole purpose of this comprehensive document is to show you both the Why and the How of using research as a key component of your go to market strategy.
You’ll learn about commissioning custom research as well as the less expensive strategy of licensing an existing study. There are excellent use cases for both.
A Final Thought
Growing a business is a complex task with a lot of uncertainty and constant change. Research can play an important role in reducing that risk by offering actionable insights. But the value does not stop there. Research can also drive business growth by serving as the foundation of a thought leadership marketing strategy. If you are serious about growth and profitability you will want to take advantage of both uses.